BW talks to Brew Master Kumar Gaurav to know how he goes about ensuring the desired quality and taste in craft beers.
Tell us something about yourself?
After doing my MBA, I attended the Craft Brewing in Practice course from VLB Berlin. In 2006 I joined a commercial brewery – Manav Breweries. I worked on brewing Kingfisher, TVB beer. Then I was with Mount Shivalik industries, that manufactures Thunderbolt, for all about 4 years. Two years ago, I started working in craft breweries. My objective was to learn about making great beer, about bacterial growth etc. because they make a huge difference to tastes in craft beer. The hygiene conditions must be perfect to avoid bacterial growth, utilization of hops and other raw materials for perfect flavours. Those are the technical things that make a great brew and my objective to be an expert at it. My first craft brewery was Hops and Brew, and now I am with Om Brewtech.
As a brew master consulting with popular breweries in Gurgaon, what do you think about your customers’ beer tastes? What special tastes do you work on?
Here in Gurgaon, people have sweet taste buds. They don’t like hoppiness in the beer. So, for wheat and other mild tastes, there is a big market – almost 80% markets are for those beers. IPA is not very popular since less hoppy beers are liked. People enjoy sweet and mild beers here like Wheat and Pilsner. We are working on different and innovative tastes. For instance, we are introducing herbal lemonade types, organic as well herbal flavours. However, Wheat beer is still my speciality.
But, as I said, our customers are evolving. Unlike five years ago, our customers can now recognize the difference between a full-bodied lager and a cheaper version. They keep coming back to us because of the quality that we are known for our clientele is young and willing to pay for beer that lives up to international standards. So our brews attracts all kinds of beer-lovers. We understand what the customer wants, keeping in mind the Indian palate while maintaining international standards of quality. We are constantly working on our beer recipes to suit the customer. However we never compromise on the quality.
WHAT ARE THE CHALLENGES OF PRODUCING GOOD BEER IN INDIA, WITH THE EQUIPMENT AVAILABLE?
In India, the biggest challenge is hygiene conditions. The widespread usage of Chinese breweries bores challenges like getting perfect conditions to make a good beer. To stop microbial growth and control temperature. When temperatures in India touch around 50 degrees, it’s a big problem. That’s why we must take many additional steps in our brewing process, for instance to avoid microbial growth we use more compression. These are additional processes that come at additional costs. Hence, costing goes up in Chinese breweries to maintain good brewing conditions.
With Om Brewtech as consultants we are suggesting higher quality German equipment to be used to ensure good quality.
What is your strategy of brewing reasonable good beers given the swamped Gurgaon market?
I think it’s really simple to brew good beer. Practice till you’re perfect. With, the right brewing conditions, malts and hops, you’re half the way there. Patience and perseverance is key. Of course, once you have the basics right, you can experiment with different flavours of malts to cater to different tastes and provide seasonal customization.
What is the biggest differentiation that your beer offers to beer lovers?
The biggest advantage we offer is our basic concept. We give very good attention to basic plants, go step by step, and ensure we don’t bypass any process. That’s why our quality is much better than that of the competition. We avoid contamination and bacterial growth for each and every process going in the brewery. Since there are many processes, the time and cost is higher, but we have to do all that to ensure good quality is all the time. Proper fumigation is done from time to time.
Since we emphasise on using Weyermann malt, it’s well modified, so we need to take great care. Quality checks are really important, especially in the Indian summers when the demand is high and conditions for brewing are less than perfect. Production efficiency needs to be balanced with quality checks and having dependable suppliers and staff. In the end, it’s all about giving your heart to beer brewing.
The beer market in India is all set to grow, what’s your plan there?
Expansion is on the cards. Wheat & Pilsner are our basic strengths and now we are also working on the SS Belge – which is a super strong Doppelbock style beer – with higher bitterness and high alcohol, but at least 20% of the market in Gurgaon now wants that.
Besides that, we are working very hard for customer satisfaction and to meet their needs – to give them a no contaminated beer. As a result, in Gurgaon, no one comes close to us in terms of quality. We plan to increase the variety of our offerings while maintaining quality and consistency of our current beers, focus on our strengths and continue to provide high-quality beer to our customers.
Our consulting outlets are all set to attract a major chunk of the growing customer base with what we’re doing right now and our plans will also drive that objective.